There was much excitement in October when the European Council approved legislation that will require many consumer electronic devices to feature a USB-C charging port. The new rule, which is designed to reduce waste, covers phones so would seem to mean that Apple will have to give us what almost everyone already wants – an iPhone with USB-C instead of the company's own Lightning cable.
Accessories like AirPods would also have to follow suit, meaning that the move effectively sounded the death knell for Apple's own charging system. But those hoping they might get USB-C on iPhone 15 could be disappointed (see the best Apple deals for savings on Apple's current product range).
The European Council has decided that the legislation requiring new products to ship with USB-C will come into effect on December 28 2024. But any products released before that date will still be allowed to remain on the market.
So while Apple could call time on the Lightning cable early, given how stubborn it's been on the issue, it could well decide to hold off for as long as possible. Assuming it sticks to its usual timetable of a new iPhone release every September, that would mean that it wouldn't actually have to include USB-C on the iPhone in Europe until the iPhone 17, which it would (we assume) launch in September 2025.
Of course, we don't know what Apple plans to do. In an interview (opens in new tab)with The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak said that “obviously we’ll have to comply” but didn't sound at all happy about it. He defended Lightning, saying that "it charges pretty well", which seems something strange for the world's biggest tech company to settle for.
Many iPhone want to be able to use accessories not designed for iOS – and to be able to use any charger they might have lying around. And Apple seems to realise that – it's already replaced Lightning on all of its iPads now, with the new 10.9-inch iPad 2022 finally introducing USB-C on the standard tablet. Considering that USB-C charges at about a third faster than Lightning (up to 640Mbps against 480), the only reason to keep Lightning is to oblige users to buy its own cables or simply because Apple doesn't like being told what to do.
We'll have to wait to see how stubborn it really is or whether it will see sense and introduce USB-C on the iPhone 15 series. We've had plenty of rumours that at least the iPhone 15 Pro and rumoured iPhone 15 Ultra will make the change, so fingers crossed.